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Random Facts of Coolness

September 22, 2014

Oh hello there! Is that you? Hold on. Let me remove my face from the freezer.

It is 80 degrees in Seattle and I am melting like Fromager d’Affinois on a toasted roll.


Every day for the past few weeks, at least one person has warned me that “today is going to be the last sunny day.” This sounds suspiciously similar to what I tell myself in order to justify eating an entire bag of cheese puffs (because it is NEVER HAPPENING AGAIN, right?)

I wanted this. Seasons. Change. Discomfort. One can only exist for so long in a climate-controlled environment, yes? But apparently I have morphed into some kind of rare, highly annoying plant that turns to straw if the temperature is not maintained between 65 and 75 degrees. I finally broke down and bought one of those freestanding, one-room air conditioning units. Sometimes I leave The One Cool Room to go to work or to eat some cheese puffs or to put my face in the freezer.

Let us all now mourn the complete destruction of my Desert Cred whilst gazing upon The Chilly Things of Summer 2014:

Compressed watermelon!

Sangria-compressed watermelon with a dusting of goat cheese granita at Ataula, a new neighborhood tapas restaurant in Portland.

PS: You would be wise to order two cubes of watermelon and only two cubes of watermelon for dinner if you plan to order doughnuts for dessert. I was expecting dainty doughnut holes or bite-sized mini-churros, which I’ve seen on many a dessert menu. But Ataula’s doughnuts are the real deal: Perfectly fluffy-yet-chewy on the inside, rolled in so much cinnamon sugar that I advise you not to wear black to dinner, and at least as big as standard Krispy Kremes. Oh, and they come piled in triplicate on a fork that has been cleaved into a block of wood. Arthur, King of the Crullers, is destined to retrieve it one day.

Doughnuts in triplicate

I also had some veggie paella topped with crispy potato chips. The heat clouded my judgment. I’m not sure what excuse you will have.

cucumbers in yogurt

Cucumbers with yogurt, panch phoron, mint, and mustard oil balanced out the spicy samosas we had at Bollywood Theater in Portland.

Rhubarb with snow

Rhubarb many ways with tonka bean “snow” at The Aviary in Chicago. More on the cocktails later. For now, did you know that tonka beans are illegal?

2014-06-08 19.33.00

Subtly spiced, chilled melon soup at the Blue Rock Inn in Washington, Virginia. Jules and I stayed in nearby Luray, Virginia for a family wedding, and the vegetarian options at Blue Rock were well worth the drive over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Bonus coolness: Jules’s “Fashion Man” floral shirt only makes appearances in the summer.

Extra bonus coolness: Our B&B in Luray was located near (1) A pig farm and (2) The home of a woman who hoards Chihuahuas. And there was hammock built for two swinging the front yard, and there were no streetlights, and oh, how the fireflies danced.

Not chihuahuas

Supreme bonus coolness: The temperature inside Luray Caverns is uniformly 54 degrees. Plus, the Caverns are home to The Great Stalacpipe Organ, which plays “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” by using rubber mallets attached to stalactites!

The organ!

The organ was designed by Leland W. Sprinkle, a Pentagon programmer who also worked on the first generation of computers in the 1950s. Legend has it that Sprinkle was inspired to design the organ when, while on a tour of the Caverns, his son hit his head on a stalactite and it produced a tone.

Let it be known that I very much want to be the type of person who WILL NOT REST UNTIL THE ORGAN MADE OUT OF A CAVE IS COMPLETE.  Alas, I exist on the opposite end of the Spectrum of Persistence.

Let it also be know that, were I not allergic to cats, I would buy a cat and name it Leland W. Sprinkle.


Back in Seattle, Jules and I waited out one of our warmest evenings at (appropriately) Damn the Weather, a new craft cocktail bar in Pioneer Square. I had The Jungle Bird. Its pale-pink froth gave me a Campari-flavored mustache upon imbibing. Yes! A craft cocktail gave me an ironic mustache!  I am pretty sure that the place doesn’t have air conditioning, but ordering their Aquavit-and-cucumber juice-based Scandinavian refresher for our second round made things feel almost climate-controlled.

The Mekong Coffee at TanakaSan in Seattle tastes like a frozen orange Milano cookie dipped in Thai iced brew. Also chilly: TanakaSan’s Green Man cocktail, which comes with a giant green-tea ice cube.

Finally, I may or may not have eaten several frozen mini fudge stripe cookies over the course of the summer. I inherited this practice from my dad, who freezes Peanut M&Ms and Hostess Cupcakes.

Unfortunately, I have no cookies on hand right now, which makes standing with my face in the freezer somewhat less enjoyable. So I’m retiring to The Cool Room to read this article about the “wonderfully absurd” specialty cocktail ice industry. See you again when the clouds roll in. Coffee-diver

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